Seven years ago, Lloyd Ferguson was campaigning with Ann Sloat when he truly realized the power of her persuasion.

Ferguson was running to be Ancaster's city councillor. Sloat — a former Ancaster mayor, MPP and regional councillor — was knocking on doors for him in her condo complex.

She'd knock, point to Ferguson, and say "vote for him, OK?" Ferguson recalls. He could only run to keep up as she knocked on the next door, pointed to him and issued the directive again. And "I didn't say a word."

Ferguson shared this memory and others at city hall Wednesday as he broke the news: after a lengthy illness Sloat died overnight Tuesday. She was 89.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger called Sloat "a tough broad" — a term Sloat assigned to herself, Ferguson said. "She always said it as she saw it."

She supported him, he said, and was a personal and political mentor. But when she didn't like one of his decisions, he said, "she'd call me to tune me up, too."

Sloat served as mayor of Ancaster from 1973 to 1984. She was a Conservative MPP for Wentworth North for a short time, and served as a Wentworth regional councillor, as well as on the Ancaster hydro commission. She also served as Ancaster deputy mayor before Hamilton's amalgamation in 2000, and was the first woman to serve on Hamilton's police board.

'Wicked sense of humour'

Sloat, said former regional chair Terry Cooke, leaves "an incredible legacy of public service."

"I will miss her determination," Cooke wrote Wednesday night, her "passion for community and more than anything else, her wicked sense of humour." 

The city honoured Sloat earlier this year by renaming the Ancaster Old Town Hall forecourt after her. At the naming event, Ferguson said, Sloat was "over the moon."

Eisenberger says the city hall flag will fly half staff until the funeral, which Ferguson says will be early next week.

"On behalf of the City of Hamilton, our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues," Eisenberger said in a statement. "She was one heck of a broad!"